Nearly 100 pastors and leaders from across Ohio spent six hours recently praying and seeking the Lord and His agenda for their lives, families, churches and communities. They left the time of prayer, Scripture reading and worship ready to move their churches from prayer activity to a prayer culture.
The SCBO Prayer Summit, a two-day event at Violet Baptist Church in Pickerington, featured Daniel Henderson, global leader of The 6:4 Fellowship. He led participants in a unique prayer format, guiding them to draw near to God together in three focus areas — to seek His face more so than His hands; to talk to Him, not just about Him; and to passionately seek to know and intimately relate to Him.
“There is a difference between prayer activity and prayer culture,” said Henderson of the critical role of leadership during the March 23–24 event. “The more vibrant the prayer life of the pastor, the more vibrant the prayer life of the congregation.”
Pastors and leaders came to the Summit with no personal agendas, noted Steve Hopkins, SCBO senior staff. “We came just to know His heart though an extended time of worship and devotion, responding to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.”
Before the six-hour Prayer Summit, some participants had concerns, said Hopkins. “The question asked most before the event was, ‘Are we really going to do nothing but pray for six hours?’ However, the most frequent evaluation comment after the day was, ‘The only thing I would change — make it longer.’”
Austin Mathis of Grace Church, Harrison, was one of those concerned about six hours of prayer.
“Not going to lie,” Mathis said. “Walking into a Prayer Summit with no agenda was intimidating and uncomfortable — just spontaneous prayer, Scripture reading and worship all day.”
‘The time just disappeared’
However, Mathis discovered his fears were unfounded.
“The time just disappeared,” he said. “It was powerful, refreshing and life-giving to spend the day seeking God’s face through Scripture-fed, Scripture-led, worship-based prayer. I am excited to lead Grace Church not just to be a church that prays, but to be a praying church.”
Mathis implemented what he learned during the Summit the next Sunday at Grace Church.
“We introduced a new element to our Sunday morning worship — a powerful time of Scripture-fed, Spirit-led, Worship-based prayer,” he said.
Culture of prayer
Mathis noted the church experienced a dynamic time of praying in community that completely changed its Sunday morning worship.
“I was so encouraged by the response,” he said, “and I am truly looking forward to this dedicated time of prayer each Sunday.
In addition to prayer time, pastors and leaders also learned how to create a culture of prayer in the church, moving from sporadic, small prayer gatherings to seeing prayer become a core reality of the congregation.
“Prayer grows by experience more than explanation,” Henderson said. “We need to provide life-giving prayer experiences for the church. The shared experience of corporate prayer leads to unity. A prayer culture is vital to supernatural mission accomplishment. We must learn to do ministry by inspiration, not imitation.”
Prioritizing prayer and fasting
Jeremy Westbrook, SCBO executive director, agreed.
“Pastors are always ‘one thing away’ from a breakthrough, looking for the next staff member, tool, or building,” he said. “We have tried everything but the most important thing. We must prioritize praying and fasting if we are going to see the multiplication we need to reach Ohio.”